“Social development and upliftment are a priority for the VRCID.” This statement greets every visitor to the VRCID website. This aspiration aligns the efforts of everyone involved with the VRCID to better serve those who are less fortunate. We want to be part of the change in our city, and have rounded up the ways motivated citizens can help too.
Make it personal – become aware
We’re all confronted with the challenges others face on a daily basis. The first step towards contributing towards solutions is to increase our own awareness. Do you witness homelessness on your way to work? Are you aware of the crisis in children’s needs? Perhaps your neighbourhood bears signs of the impact unemployment and education deficits wreak on the lives of others? Make a point of becoming actively conscious of your surroundings and the issues around you. Focus on one problem of injustice and you can make a lasting impact.
Use your skills, or just your time
When you consider making a donation, don’t just think about giving away financial or physical resources. Sharing your skills with people who haven’t had the opportunities to learn or cultivate them can help empower, educate, and equip them to change their lives.
Even if you don’t feel your skills are directly transferable, or easy to teach to another, they might be useful to the NGO itself. You may not be able to pass on your accountancy knowledge to the people an NGO helps, but you could lower the NGO’s annual costs by completing the tax return of the organisation itself.
There are many occupations which are inaccessible to those less fortunate. If you are a psychologist, for example, you could donate some hours to provide free counselling through an NGO. Organisations always have a wish list of services they would love to provide, so ask what it is that they need and they will tell you.
Even if you don’t feel your talents or experience are applicable, often the time and bodies of people are useful in and of themselves. Anybody can assist with sorting donated clothes or helping to prepare meals, for example. Spending time helping children to read is a hugely rewarding activity which can help transform prospects, and all that is required from volunteers is basic literacy and patience.
Become a member
Although you don’t necessarily have to be a member to volunteer somewhere, being affiliated with a project has many benefits. You will be kept up to date with changes and progress, and this will help you remain engaged with the cause. Many organisations use their database to draft teams for specific projects, allowing you to participate for an allotted period of time if you cannot commit on an on-going basis.
Give what you can
Different organisations have different needs. Contact the one you are interested in helping and inform them that you would like to donate to their cause. Be sensitive when donating things and assess whether or not an item is still appropriate before donating, it will save them time and energy.
Of course money is always welcome and necessary, and donating through an NGO rather than handing out cash on the street is more effective and safer. If you would like to remain anonymous you can always obtain their banking details and do an EFT.
Money donated is distributed through established channels to help further projects, or sometimes to pay the salaries of hardworking employees that keep NGOs afloat. It is a constant battle for NGOs to survive financially, despite the excellent work that they do.
Ready, set, start
The hardest part of starting to do something is just that: beginning. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the NGOs that VRCID is closely affiliated with. Any of these would greatly appreciate your support:
- TASP (Tygerberg Association for Street People)
- Bellville Haven
- Elim Night Shelter
- Ark City of Refuge
- Dusk to Dawn
- Saartjie Baartman Centre
- Sisters Incorporated
- Kyrios & Elthios Ministries (Street Children in Parow)
- Western Cape Street Children Forum
- Western Cape Street People Forum
Most of these have their own websites, where you can obtain information about their activities and needs, as well as their location and contact details.
The VRCID website (www.vrcid.co.za) has contact details for most of these organisations under the Social section. You can also contact Wilma Piek, the Social Development manager at VRCID if you would like further information or specific contact details at Wilma.Piek@vrcid.co.za